The impact of discrimination on parent–adolescent relationships in U.S. Mexican families

Chang Zhao, Rebecca M.B. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Family Stress Model (FSM) posits that environmental stressors disrupt key parenting and family processes via increases in parents’ psychological distress. Few studies, however, have examined whether Latinx parents’ perceptions of discrimination, a salient environmental stressor for Latinx populations, disrupt parent–child relationships. It is particularly important to examine acceptance and conflict in the parent–child relationship during children’s adolescence as this is a time when the parent–child relationship can be particularly vulnerable. The current study examined whether parents’ perceptions of discrimination predicted lower acceptance and higher conflict in the parent–adolescent relationship, via elevated parental depressive symptoms. Data were from a longitudinal study of 749 U.S. Mexican families with adolescents (48.9% female; mean age = 10.42, SD = 0.55 at Wave 1) and were examined using path analyses. Mother’s discrimination experiences predicted higher levels of mother-reported mother–adolescent conflict through higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms. Additionally, maternal discrimination directly predicted declines in mother-reported acceptance for boys, but not for girls. Paternal discrimination experiences were positively associated with paternal depressive symptoms, but paternal depressive symptoms were not associated with father–adolescent relationship processes. The current study underscored discrimination as a salient stressor for U.S. Mexican mothers’ and fathers’ psychological wellbeing, and, for mothers, these experiences may influence their relationships with their adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • discrimination
  • Latinx families
  • parental depressive symptoms
  • parental warmth
  • parent–adolescent conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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